Iran says exercising restraint despite 'unacceptable' escalation of U.S. sanctions

Nellie Chapman
May 18, 2019

"I hope not", the president responded when asked by a reporter outside the White House if the U.S. was going to war with Iran.

President Donald Trump has sought to put the brakes on a brewing confrontation with Iran in recent days, telling the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, administration officials said, while his senior diplomats began searching for ways to defuse the tensions.

"We exercise maximum restraint", he said, despite the Trump administration's unilateral move a year ago to withdraw from the worldwide agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Iran has denied alleged US intelligence suggesting the Islamic Republic was secretly arming commercial ships with missiles, and emphasized that neither country sought war as tensions heightened.

Trump is concerned that the U.S. could be rushed into a military confrontation with Iran, and instead wishes to pursue a diplomatic approach to easing tensions, several United States officials told the Post.

"Let us assume that a bully is standing in a cross section on the street and telling everybody, 'If you don't pass the red light, I'm going to beat you.' This is exactly what the telling them", Zarif said, adding, "This is economic terrorism, pure and simple".

Question, then: Was Trump's directive in the Situation Room about avoiding war created to be leaked?

The "ability to provide routine and emergency services to USA citizens in Iraq is extremely limited" due to the current security situation, State Department officials said in an alert.

"As long as they can not share those information with the general public, I think there is no utility in saying that these information are credible", he continued.

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According to this narrative, the "Iran hawks" in the Trump administration - people like National Security Adviser John Bolton, or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - sense an opportunity. The House has requested a classified briefing as well.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, a supporter of the administration's tough stance on Iran, said, "I would urge the State Department and DoD to come down here and explain to us what's going on, because I have no idea what the threat stream is beyond what I read in the paper". "I don't think it's business as usual". But their significance has prompted a debate among officials within the White House, Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency.

Zarif also met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who said Japan would like to maintain, and develop, its traditionally friendly ties with Iran.

"What they should be doing is calling me up, sitting down".

Last week, United States officials said they had detected signs of Iranian preparations for potential attacks on USA forces and interests in the Middle East, but Washington has not spelled out that threat.

Some of the current discourse about Iran nonetheless makes it sound not only as if there were something new and threatening but that the Iranian regime is the initiator of the threat.

The United States is not alone in curtailing activities in Iraq. The US military's Central Command said its troops were on high alert, without elaborating.

In May 2018, he pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with six world powers. And in the meantime, a miscalculation by either side is always a possibility.

"The dispute surrounding the Iranian nuclear agreement is essentially a contest between multilateralism and unilateralism", he said. Jim Risch of Idaho, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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